Category Archives: environment

A Week in Trump USA Part 1…

My high school choir Director, a brilliant artist and loving man, posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

“Those who study authoritarian regimes suggest keeping a list of abnormal events after a demagogue is elected, as a way to remind yourself that this isn’t normal and to keep from being overwhelmed into acceptance by the onslaught of attacks on our rights.
Here is a list below. We are 4 days in. As one author says, “when you see all of this in one list, it is easy to get overwhelmed, at first– it is also easy to see a pattern and to finally, finally recognize that none of this is normal, nor is it ok.”

  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
  •  On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
    * On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
  • On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
  • On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
  • On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
  • On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
  • On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
  • On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
  • On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
  • On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.”

Thank you to Mr. Taylor for the information.

In further news, after various government agencies were asked to stop reporting scientific information about the environment numerous alternative twitter feeds for these agencies popped up. I never imagined the National Parks Service would lead the revolution but ladies and gentlemen it certainly has. Follow these alternative feeds for publications about science that the Trump administration cannot stem:

Finally, are you looking for something to do to improve your mind? How about a little light reading courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act? Take a gander on over to the FOIA.Gov site and read through how to make a FOIA request. Since the Trump Administration has put a gag order into place I suggest we help these agencies out.

FOIA requests can cost some research time and reprinting costs however, you may request a waiver of fees. “Under the FOIA, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.”

I would argue that requesting the release of scientific information gathered by our government on the status of our environmental health during a time when the Executive branch has restricted the release of any information falls quite clearing under the requirements for fee waivers.

 

Govern(mental) shutdown.

I have been avoiding the news lately.  My own life has enough pain and suffering in it that I am afraid coming across any additional madness will shock me into a  vegetative state and I will spend my life in a mental ward. (Sometimes this concept has a certain appeal.)

So I didn’t pay much attention to the shutdown.

I heard it in the hallways, from my parents, skimmed quickly past comments on FB and Twitter.  Then today, I came face to face with it.  It turns out, in a technological age, a person can only avoid the world so long as they are able or willing to stay away from a computer.

I teach environmental law.  Today I went to the EPA to get some snapshots for my slides for class.  I use the Environmental Compliance History Online system, or the ECHO system, to monitor compliance with Clean Water permits.  I wanted to walk my students through a practical analysis of a real world permit using the system they would use in the real world.

This is what I got:

Yes, the government is unable to update it’s compliance information due to the shutdown.  Even worse, I am unable to search past compliance information due to the shutdown.

Then I got an email from opposing counsel in a lawsuit telling me that the Department of Justice is closed and they have to seek a stay in my case.

Mindboggling.  The Department of Justice is closed.  All because a small percentage of the population is unwilling to compromise on health care.

Oh I know, I know.  I am sure you have a million reasons to toss out as to why a measure that passed by popular vote is actually really unpopular with the majority of the populace, but you see, I don’t believe you.  Maybe it’s the education in the legal process, maybe it’s simple math.

All I know is a guy I work against all the time, who has two little kids, is the sole breadwinner for his family and who tries every day to make the world a little better is at home wondering when or if he will get his next paycheck.

A rare and endangered snail is languishing in exactly the kind of bureaucratic B.S. Congress wrote the Endangered Species Act to avoid.

And now I have to pay attention to the news.

Pointless?

Have you ever fought long and hard for something only to wake up one day and discover any effect you may have had on the problem is so small as to seem pointless?

Three years of law school, four years of practice, a handful of species advanced along the road to recovery.

One ginormous oil spill.

I can’t watch the effects anymore. I can’t stop myself from crying when I do. What the fuck is the point of trying to protect bio-diversity if entire eco-systems can be wiped out with a single mechanical failure?

Every now and then I feel as though fighting for bio-diversity is like running in place but now it feels like being pushed right off the damn treadmill.